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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fear and loathing in Minnesota

Image of Syrian refugee child from

Our governor has chosen not to embrace the rampant xenophobia currently flooding the United States, and will continue to accept Syrian refugees. In response to this decision, many Minnesotans are posting comments to Mark Dayton's Facebook page. Some of the comments are supportive, like:
 Governor Dayton, Thank-You for not allowing fear to blind you to those in need; we are a land of immigrants with the freedom to practice the religion of our choice and to live freely from persecution - to cower to the bigots and fear-mongers would be un-American.
Some are not:
governor goofy we already have plenty of taxi drivers here keep syrians out what they hey like them so much move over there governor goofy you babbling tax monger
 My condolences to the poor people who have to put up with this ass as your Governor. He is completely insane and cares more about immigrants than his own citizens. Thank God I live in a state where our people come first.
 What in the hell are you thinking?? We have enough trash in Minnesota as it is!!!! We ALL say NO MORE!!!!!!!
  Maybe all the taxpaying citizens should leave your state, then all that will be left is a welfare state somali ghetto, hell it looks like that now.
 Hey, Dayton. This is the USA. ....Just thought I would remind you. We don't need any "refugees."\
Traitor of the state of Minnesota and its people I hope you get voted out and in the least when these so called refugees I pray you are one of first that gets it when they start killing.
I posted a comment, commending Governor Dayton on his decision, and two of the responses I received were...interesting. This is a screenshot of that thread:

First, Lee Alberts. With his rebel flag profile picture. Whenever I see a rebel flag on the back of a car or truck in Minnesota, I resist the urge to give the owner of said vehicle a history lesson about how we live in the Northern portion of the country, and while the North was not blameless or sinless when it came to slavery, the North FOUGHT THE SOUTH and won. Anyway, back to Mr. Alberts. On his Facebook page, Mr. Alberts refers to President Obama as "Obozo," has numerous memes insulting and denigrating Hillary Clinton, including one that puts her in black face, and a cartoon of President Obama with a rope around his neck. 

By the way, we would welcome a Syrian family into our home with open arms.

Now, James Johnson, the classy fellow who called me a "Muslim bitch." Mr. Johnson's Facebook page is a veritable shrine to Pamela Geller, Donald Trump, conservative click bait sites, and hate. A lot of hate. He also shares quite a bit from a page called AAAA. The "long description" of AAAA, from their own page:
We are Anti Incompetence, Anti Corruption, Pro America. We must unite as Americans to protect our sacred foundation......The Constitution. Without it we are only slaves. Please help enlighten the ones who are taken in by the lies of the corrupt politicians in our government. Help keep America American.
Can I be a bitch? Oh hell yes I can, especially when some asshole from Burnsville attacks me for telling the truth. From The Washington Post:
Perhaps one of the most persuasive arguments against equating refugees with terrorists is simple: It's exactly what the Islamic State wants.The very same refugees entering Europe are often the very same civilians who face the indiscriminate violence and cruel injustice in lands controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (though, it should be noted, many in Syria are also threatened by the brutal actions of the Syrian government). Globally, studies have shown that Muslims tend to make up the largest proportion of terror victims, with countries such as Syria and Iraq registering the highest toll.If Muslim refugees come to Europe and are welcomed, it deeply undercuts the Islamic State's legitimacy. Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has helpfully catalogued some of the Islamic State's messages on the refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East. The messages give the impression of deep discomfort and even jealousy that the Muslim population the Islamic State so covets for its self-proclaimed "caliphate" would rather live in "infidel" Western lands.
All these hateful, bigoted people, like James Johnson and Lee Alberts, like the governors and right-wing politicians and pundits calling for a ban on refugees in a country built by immigrants and refugees, are helping ISIS. When countries refuse sanctuary to people fleeing war and terror, we embolden those waging war and terror. ISIS can take all of this hate and use it to recruit. "See," they will say, "they hate you because you are Muslim, because you worship Mohammed. This is why they must be punished." 

If we do not give in to fear and hatred, if we stand together and, using the current vetting processes we have, continue welcoming refugees, we are telling ISIS they have no power. A French father told his son "They've got guns, but we have flowers."

There is power in peace. There is power in standing up to terrorists by being exactly the opposite of what they want us to be. There is no power in supporting hate and fear and violence. That is precisely what ISIS wants: they want us afraid of "the other," they want us turning on our neighbors, they want us divided. 

They want a stranger on the internet so angry, he calls another stranger a "Muslim bitch."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Joshua Feuerstein vs Starbucks

Image from

Starbucks rolled out their annual holiday cups a few days ago, and Oh. My. God. You'd think Starbucks had changed the recipe for Peppermint Mocha to Peppermint Baby Parts With A Sprinkle Of The Ground-Up Femur Of Jesus. The asshat in charge of the War on Christmas™ 2016 battle against overpriced coffee is a guy named Joshua Feurerstein. Or, as he is being called around our house, "that douche."

Joshua Feuerstein decided that he desperately needed a video to go viral, probably to pay for another Cartier watch, so he took his sanctimonious right-wing Christianity, and his GUN, to a local Starbucks. Where he suddenly realized Starbucks had taken the "Christ out of Christmas!" Holy wise men, how dare they? Obviously, every other year, Starbucks' cups were plastered with the face of Jesus, the star of Bethlehem, perhaps the stable where Jesus was born. Well, no. Snowflakes, yes. Poinsettia flowers, yes. Modern renderings of ornaments, yes. But no Jesus, no star, no stable. 

This raises the question: how exactly did Starbucks take the Christ out of Christmas for 2015, when Christ was never part of the Starbucks holiday experience in the first place? Donald Trump has even jumped on the red cups bandwagon, pondering if a boycott of Starbucks might be the way to go:
I have one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don't know. Seriously, I don't care. By the way, that's the end of that lease but who cares. (source)
Cups. This is all about cups, and some wanker's desire for publicity. No, not Trump, Feuerstein. From what I have gleaned in two days of researching Joshua, he's a hot mess of narcissism. He begged for $20,000 in order to buy a new video camera, but still makes videos using his phone. No one knows what Joshua did with the $7,000 he raised begging on the internet for said camera. 

Oh, and Joshua Feuerstein's brilliant "boycott" plan? Go into Starbucks, order a beverage, and when they ask your name, reply "Merry Christmas." Thus forcing the employee who brings your coffee to the counter to call out "Merry Christmas." Someone should tell Joshua it's not a boycott if you're still giving the company money.

To their credit, many Christians are telling Joshua Feuerstein to shut up. Comments on his Facebook page are rife with people calling him out on his stupidity, comments like:
Oh dear God. It's a CUP one that NEVER said Merry Christmas by the about you skip your mocha choco latte and feed a family instead?
This is getting ridiculous! They NEVER had merry Christmas on the cups to begin with!! They DO have a Christmas blend coffee though,which says CHRISTMAS on the bag or box!!! Get a grip people!!!
I'm a Christian. And this is just ridiculous! I'm not sure we serve the same the way you encourage people to be arrogant. It's the LOVE of God that draws people to Him. Not this.....this breaks my heart....makes me nauseous...all this over a red cup! Really?? And just because people have viewed it does not mean they agree.
Real talk: 
I can confidently say that Jesus doesn't give two shits about what is or isn't on your Starbucks red coffee just stop it. Right now. 
He'd actually much rather you give that money you spent on that Starbucks to your hungry neighbor, however.
I think Joshua Feuerstein should consider himself lucky he can afford Starbucks. There are many people who cannot. There are many people who cannot afford clothes, or food, or a home, or medical treatment, but to Joshua, it's those damn cups that Jesus cares about. If Joshua Feuerstein wants to truly put the Christ back in Christmas, maybe he should stop begging people to "share if you care!" on everything he posts, stop ranting about cups, and donate some time and/or money to a local homeless shelter.  

If you shop at Starbucks, keep an eye out for their Christmas blend coffee, their Christmas gift cards, their Christmas music, and their Advent calendar. Because nothing says "we hate Christmas" more than selling an Advent calendar. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ben Carson wants to overturn Roe v. Wade

A few years ago, my husband and I were discussing the right wing, and I said they were going to try and overturn Roe v. Wade. My husband disagreed, because, as he put it, that would be incredibly difficult. So you can imagine his utter shock at the news that GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson recently stated he wants to do exactly that.

Simply put, Roe v. Wade made abortion safe and legal. Prior to Roe v. Wade, women who needed an abortion were forced to visit questionable clinics and doctors, doctors who performed the procedure could be arrested, and women died. Actress Polly Bergen had an illegal abortion that left her infertile and nearly ended her life:
Someone gave me the phone number of a person who did abortions and I made the arrangements. I borrowed about $300 from my roommate and went alone to a dirty, run-down bungalow in a dangerous neighborhood in east Los Angeles. A greasy looking man came to the door and asked for the money as soon as I walked in. He told me to take off all my clothes except my blouse; there was a towel to wrap around myself. I got up on a cold metal kitchen table. He performed a procedure, using something sharp. He didn’t give me anything for the pain — he just did it. He said that he had packed me with some gauze, that I should expect some cramping, and that I would be fine. I left. (source)
A cold, metal kitchen table in a run-down bungalow. Dr. Daniel Mishell, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, remembers what it was like before Roe v. Wade:
Dr. Daniel Mishell is now professor and chairman of the ob-gyn department at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. In the years before Roe vs. Wade, he was a resident at Harbor General Hospital near Torrance and later at what is now County-USC hospital.The women he treated "were the sickest patients, I'll tell you that, because of what they did and the infections they got" -- appalling infections like gas gangrene, which killed tissue and sometimes the patient. "We had ladies who got so infected they went in shock and their kidneys shut down. A lot of them did die."
At any one time, 15 or 20 women lay in the county hospital septic abortion ward, an additional half a dozen at Harbor. They were too sick to talk, but Mishell knew the common thread: usually unmarried and abandoned by the man, uniformly, suicidally desperate.
They jabbed into their uteruses with knitting needles and coat hangers, which Mishell sometimes found still inside them. They stuck in bicycle pump nozzles, sometimes sending a fatal burst of air to the heart. They'd try to insert chemicals -- drain cleaner, fertilizer, radiator-flush -- and miss the cervix, corrode an artery and bleed to death. Mishell once put a catheter into a woman's bladder and "got a tablespoon of motor oil."
"I'm telling you, it was really an awful situation. It touched me because I'd see young, [otherwise] healthy women in their 20s die from the consequences of an infected nonsterile abortion. Women would do anything to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. They'd risk their lives. It was a different world, I'll tell you."
(Why didn't they just get birth control, you wonder. Because some state laws still defined contraception as "obscene," and not until 1965 -- in living memory of some of you reading this -- did the Supreme Court say contraceptives were legal for married couples. The unmarried didn't get that right until 1972.)
The women Mishell treated were poor working women. The rich had other means of breaking the laws against abortion, with doctors as discreet as they were expensive. Mishell spent 1961 working in Sweden, and remembers frequent calls from colleagues back home wanting to send their pregnant, prosperous patients over to get abortions.
When people like Ben Carson say they want to overturn Roe v. Wade, this is what they want. Women will not stop getting abortions. What they will do is end up on a cold, metal table, with a person standing over them who may or may not have medical training. Women will become septic, end up in hospitals, die. They will be rendered infertile. 

Overturning Roe v. Wade has nothing to do with preserving life. Many conservatives view women with contempt, and women who need an abortion as whores, trollops, sinners. Remember, the right wing desperately tried to redefine rape, and quite a few of them oppose abortion exemptions for rape and incest. Louie Gohmert told a woman who aborted her brain-dead fetus after 20 weeks she should have carried that fetus to term, "just in case."

Conservatives don't care if women die. Conservatives don't really care about children; if they did, they wouldn't continue to call for massive cuts to social programs that help families. This is about power. And if someone like Ben Carson becomes president in 2016, they will exercise their power to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who share their vision. 

If Ben Carson was truly pro-life, he would realize abortion must remain safe and legal. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion; Dr. Mishell's experiences are proof of that. What it will end is the ability of low-income women to receive a safe medical procedure. In reality, this is just another attempt by conservatives to punish and shame the poor.

In the end, it's up to us. Will we protect women and families from the sadistic idealism of conservatives, or will we be silent? If abortion is made illegal, women will die. Women will be rendered infertile. How is that pro-life? Use your voice, and your vote, to stand up for what is right. Visit the following links to find out you can help.


Planned Parenthood

Emily's List

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Could "gun nuts" have Paranoid Personality Disorder?

First, a disclaimer. A "gun nut" is not a responsible gun owner. There are millions of men and women in this country who are responsible gun owners. People like my friend, Manny, who owns firearms, or my husband, who was a gun collector. Responsible gun owners overwhelmingly support universal background checks, while "gun nuts" see any change to current gun laws as some sort of conspiracy. This article is not about responsible gun owners.

If you have engaged with a "gun nut" online, odds are, you have experienced confusion, frustration, and perhaps, fear. Fear for your own safety, and the safety for the "gun nut" and his or her family. I know many people who have braved the internet in support of stricter gun legislation, only to find themselves at the receiving end of rape and death threats, threats against their families, even threats against babies and children. The screenshot to the left is of a threat sent to Chad McDonald, a writer and activist. This all begs the question: Could "gun nuts" suffer from Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is the book used by mental health professionals when diagnosing any mental illness. This is where I began my search for an explanation of "gun nuts" and their behavior. Several entries caught my attention, but Paranoid Personality Disorder best matched the experiences so many of us have had when dealing with "gun nuts." From the DSM:
PPD (Paranoid Personality Disorder) is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), diagnosis assigned to individuals who have a pervasive, persistent, and enduring mistrust of others, and a profoundly cynical view of others and the world (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
A pervasive, persistent, and enduring mistrust of others. When "gun nuts" are confronted with the fact that no one is trying to overturn the Second Amendment, they don't believe it. Any change to any gun laws is an attack on their rights; nothing you say or do will change their mind. Some of the criteria for PPD includes a belief others are lying without any proof, interpreting benign remarks as attacks, and holding grudges.(source)

But does this explain the violence? Look at that screenshot again. Mr. Marchus, a "gun nut," immediately begins threatening Chad McDonald's infant when confronted with a view different than his own. Here another of Mr. Marchus's comments:

Does Mr. Marchus seem stable, or does he seem violent? You could argue the "lol" on the comment about Chad's baby, combined with the smiley face at the end of the comment above, indicate some sort of sociopathic disorder, and you might be right. However, violence can be part of Paranoid Personality Disorder. From No
The main symptoms of PPD are not merely that they do not like people, but that they do not trust anyone They do not trust facts. They do not confide in anyone. They dwell abnormally long on past problems with people and may plot revenge. They do not accept what anyone tells them. They are incredibly jealous and easily hurt. They do not accept any form of criticism. They are always in the right and woe betide anyone who tells them otherwise.
Sometimes people with PPD can turn violent. They think they are just protecting themselves, but this is small comfort to anyone at the receiving end of such an attack. Anyone living with a person suffering from PPD must be able to defend themselves, have a place to run to if necessary and be vigilant for signs of impending violence, advises Dr. Stuart C. Yudovsky, author of Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships With People With Disorders of Personality and Character (American Psychiatric Association; 2007.)
After any mass shooting, there is an inevitable backlash against the mentally ill. Those who attack mental illness often have no idea that statistically, mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. There is a difference, however, between mental illness and personality disorders, like PPD:
Unlike clinical syndromes, personality disorders have a life-long pattern. People with personality disorders are more likely to develop a number of clinical syndromes, such as depression, anxiety, and misuse disorder.
Furthermore, the symptoms of clinical syndromes are increased with the comorbidity of a personality disorder, and for this reason, they can be seen as risk factors for the development of clinical syndromes.
Clinical syndromes are thought to have a later onset than personality disorders, and both psychological and medical treatments are effective in the treatment of clinical syndromes in contrast to personality disorders, where the symptoms associated with the disorders are treated, and not the disorder itself. (source)
Is it possible that some "gun nuts" may have Paranoid Personality Disorder? Given how distrusting they are, how easily they believe that any idea of saner gun legislation is an attempt to take all the guns, and how quickly they turn to violent language, it is a definite possibility. 

There is a satirical joke about how the people who hate better gun laws the most probably couldn't pass a background check. Learning what I have about PPD, and having my life threatened by quite a few "gun nuts," I wonder if that joke isn't closer to the truth than many of us would like to believe. Could the men who threaten the brave women of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America with rape and murder on a daily basis suffer from PPD? Or Mr. Marchus, the man who threatened to shoot Chad McDonald, and threatened the life of an infant? Or the man who, a few years ago, sent me a message on social media, telling me he was coming to my house to shoot and kill my entire family? 

Perhaps it's not the depressed, or the anxious, or the schizophrenic we need to fear. Perhaps it's the "gun nuts."

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Make-Believe War on Christmas

Halloween is coming up, as evidenced by the Christmas decorations starting to appear in stores all over the country. A local Hallmark store already has their new ornaments front and center in the window, next to some cute stuffed pumpkins, which is incredibly confusing, because I don't know what the hell to do on the 31st: hand out candy, or sing carols. Oh Come All Ye Ghouls and Ghosts? Jingle Bats? Deck the Halls With Boughs of Wormwood? 

Don't get me wrong-I love Christmas. Our tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and stays up until my husband begins sighing dramatically. I love baking, decorating, the weather, the smells, the music, everything. But holy shit, it's October 12. Why are we being subjected to Christmas this early? And why are the twits over at Fox Spews starting their whining about the make-believe war on Christmas? 

In past years, Bill O'Reilly has carried the pine-scented torch for the soldiers fighting this imaginary war, opining from his perch about how saying "Happy Holidays" is tantamount to treason. Conservatives angrily type, all in caps, that they refuse to shop anywhere that has signs reading anything other than "Merry Christmas." If an employee has the audacity to wish a conservative "Happy Holidays," well, that employee better duck, because the most fervent fundamentalist Christians are also well-armed. 

What has Fox's poinsettia panties in a bunch? A public school in Elkhart, Indiana, is being sued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU for featuring a live nativity scene in their annual Christmas show. The complaint was filed by a student and his father, and states:
The Nativity scene and the story of the birth of Jesus are, of course, well-recognized symbols of the Christian faith. Their presence at the Christmas Spectacular is coercive, represents an endorsement of religion by the high school and the school corporation, has no secular purpose and has the principal purpose and effect of advancing religion.
If this was a parochial school, the student wouldn't have a leg to stand on. But it's a public school, paid for by tax dollars, not tuition. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the FFRA, said:
Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to ensure that nonreligious and non-Christian students are able to fully participate in their school’s winter concert.The Nativity represents the pinnacle of Christian belief and its most holy day. The spectacle would be appropriate at a private Catholic school, but is a blatant and egregious promotion of religion in a public school setting.
Yes, yes, and more yes. The student, his father, the FFRA, and the ACLU are absolutely correct. The student wants to participate in the Christmas show, without having religion shoved down his throat. This is not a war on Christmas, or a war on Christianity. It's a prime example of fundamentalist bullying.

If a public school wanted to put on a play that glorified the life of Mohammed, or Buddha, do you really believe the same people pouting about this lawsuit would be silent? Of course not; they would be suing the school on behalf of White Jesus™, because the only religion allowed is their version of Christianity. 

What those fundies need to understand is the actual history of Christmas. Jesus was most likely not born on December 25. That date was chosen because many Pagan festivals took place on or near that date. Gift giving originated in Paganism as well, with the Romans giving gifts out during Saturnalia. Decorating with holly and ivy? Pagan. Mistletoe? Pagan and Norse. The "Christmas" tree? Greek, Roman, Pagan. 

Contrary to what Megyn Kelly would like us to think, Jesus wasn't really white, and Santa Clause is an amalgam of Odin, a Turkish saint, and Madison Avenue. And there is no war on Christmas. If there was, do you honestly think we'd be seeing decorations in October? 

Look for Gretchen Carlson, she of the Festivus pole tantrum, and Bill O'Reilly, general in a make-believe war, to bitch and moan for the next two-and-a-half months about liberal secularists trying to destroy Christmas. You know, as we hang our lights, and decorate our tree, and bake cookies, and listen to Christmas carols. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Right Wing Round-Up!

The past week or so has been a veritable treasure trove of right-wing horror. From the conservative reaction to Pope Francis, to a Fox pundit calling for public lists of people receiving government assistance, to George Zimmerman's sociopathic Twitter-fest, to John Lott blaming a victim of gun violence for being shot, the right-wing has had an interesting time. Rather than search high and low for information on this cluster**** of epic proportions, please enjoy the Right-Wing Round Up.

Pope Francis visited the U.S. last week, and from all accounts, he had a very nice time. He kissed a baby wearing a pope costume, he said Mass to hundreds of thousands of people, and he drove around in a Fiat. The pope also spoke to Congress, and that's where, at least for conservatives, the wheels fell off. Pope Francis eloquently defended the environment, called for us to care for those less fortunate, pondered gun violence, and said this about the death penalty:
Every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation. (source)
Many conservatives support the death penalty, even as they call themselves "pro-life." Many conservatives deny the science behind climate change, and most of them refuse to support any gun laws. And of course, there is the shaming of the poor, which leads us to our second entry in the Right Wing Round-Up.

Seton Motley and Steve Doocy were having a little chat over on Fox about publishing the names of people who receive government assistance. Obviously not caring that doing this would be illegal, Mr. Motley stated:
If the American taxpayers, who are paying the freight, know who is getting welfare they can keep a better eye on who is abusing the system et cetera and perhaps we can do some real serious welfare reform.
Doocy weighed in, throwing a question to Rebecca Vallas of the Center for American Progress:
Okay, Rebecca, the key to what he just said were the people who are abusing the system. There are some people, you know, we all know abuse the system, they go on it for years. But there are others, you know, who run into a tough spot and they might have to go on public assistance for a while. What's the matter with putting the list out there of the people who are winding up with money out of the taxpayers' pocket?
Sadly, Ms. Vallas didn't simply shout "IT'S ILLEGAL YOU TROGLODYTES," instead opting for a more nuanced response, explaining why we need to raise the minimum wage. Mr. Motley sneered at her, and barked:
Yeah, once again let's shame the people who are creating jobs rather than, you know, shaming the people who are sitting on welfare. And of course she's got half the table right on raising the minimum wage. Of course, the number of people on assistance will explode because of all the jobs that will be killed by a resulting, as a result of the raising of the minimum wage. The problem is, a family of three is not supposed to be living on a minimum wage. If you are making minimum wage you shouldn't be having children and being on, and trying to raise a family on it.
It's the last sentence. See it? If you're poor, you shouldn't have children. Seton Motley has a website, where you can find many articles written about abortion. From the tone of those articles, it seems Mr. Motley is most likely pro-fetus, which makes his comment on poor people having kids incredibly hypocritical.

Next, let's briefly visit what murderer, batterer, and all-around sociopath George Zimmerman has been up to. On Sunday, Zimmerman retweeted a photo of Trayvon Martin's corpse. The teenager he murdered. Zimmerman's brother confirmed to Huffington Post George Zimmerman's account, @TherealGeorgeZ, is authentic. Zimmerman also called President Obama an "Ignorant Baboon" in August, and wrote "Cops lives matter, black slime doesnt [sic]". Thank goodness for social media, or we'd never know what kind of monster George Zimmerman is. Other than the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the domestic violence, and the gun charges, and the partnering with an Islamophobic gun dealer to sell crappy art.

Finally, we have John Lott. For those of you lucky enough not to know who he is, John Lott is a more paranoid, more conservative, and more dishonest version of Wayne LaPierre. Lott lies about practically everything having to do with gun violence, including studies, research, facts, and crime statistics. And a few days ago, John Lott wrote this on his website in response to a shooting:
Passive behavior probably leaves robbery victim paralyzed
That is the title of an aggregated blog post. The original article is from St. Louis Today, and details the shooting of Christopher Sanna. Mr. Sanna and a woman were robbed at gunpoint, and, as they turned to flee, one of the gunmen fired, hitting Mr. Sanna in the back. And according to John Lott, that is Mr. Sanna's fault. 

Well, that's enough awfulness for today. Unfortunately, with the presidential campaign, and Boehner's forced retirement, and the Planned Parenthood hearings/waste of our tax dollars, I'm sure there will be many more occasions for Right Wing Round-Ups. Until then, let's think happy thoughts. Here's a photo of Yo-Yo Ma, on the floor with a wombat.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

We Need More Kids Like Ahmed Mohammed

Image of Ahmed Mohammed from The Guardian

Ahmed Mohammed is a 14-year old high school freshman in Texas. Ahmed loves to build things, he loves technology and engineering. And on Sunday, Ahmed built a clock to show to his new engineering teacher.

He took it it school, and showed it to his teacher. Who told Ahmed not to show it to anyone else. Ahmed put the clock away, but during English class, it "beeped." His annoyed English teacher asked him to bring the clock up, and when she saw it, she told Ahmed it "looks like a bomb." Ahmed responded, "It doesn't look like a bomb to me." The English teacher kept the clock.

Later in the day, Ahmed was pulled out of class by the principal, taken to a room with five police officers who took his tablet and his clock, interrogated him, handcuffed and fingerprinted him, and during questioning, repeatedly brought up Ahmed's last name. (source)

We need more kids like Ahmed. We need kids who question things, who want to solve problems, build things, invent, think outside the box, hell, build a new box. We need kids who look at a pile of wire and diodes, and say "I can make something out of this." We need kids who see the future and want to make it better.

What we don't need are paranoid xenophobes who see a Muslim teenager, and automatically think terrorist. What we don't need are Donald Trump and Peter King and Pamela Geller and the rest of the anti-other crowd spewing their filth and hate all over the country. What we don't need are "leaders" who believe the Earth is only 10,000 years old, and fossils were placed here by Satan to confuse us.

In the interview below, Ahmed says this experience made him feel "like I wasn't human." This is bright, inquisitive young man, who tried to impress a new teacher with an invention. If Ahmed's name was Jimmy, and he was a white Protestant, do you honestly believe that teacher would have told him to put the clock away? Or the English teacher would have said it "looks like a bomb?" Odds are, Jimmy would have had a glowing note sent home, instead of the letter the Irving Independent School District sent home about Ahmed's clock. That letter blames Ahmed, and calls his clock a "suspicious-looking device."

It would have more honest if the Irving Independent School District had called Ahmed Mohammed a "suspicious-looking student," because in the end, that's what this whole thing was about. Ahmed is the other, even if he's not. He's a teenager with a creative mind. But his last name is Mohammed, his skin is brown, and therefore, a clock is a bomb.

A 14-year old kid built a clock. His reward to be made to feel as if he wasn't human.